Moldova Appeal

// May 2nd, 2007 // Blog

Copy of an e-mail that i received today [emphasis is mine]:

I recently returned from a trip to Moldova in Eastern Europe. Before traveling there I had done some basic research about the country and came across a few articles about the situation of the Muslims there. I read that they were facing serious problems due to the government not allowing them to register Islam as a religion and therefore not granting them the freedom to practise their religion. An article by the Islamic Human Rights Commission summarises this.

I hadn't really thought much about these issues because I felt, like many others, that enough people were already participating in efforts to help the Muslims there and that it was not something that I could necessarily help with. So upon arrival in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, it was the last thing on my mind.

Moldova is officially the poorest country in Europe as there is virtually no industry and few job opportunities. The population is about 4.4 million of which approximately 3,000 are Muslims made up of various ethnic groups from in and around the former Soviet Union. Statistics indicate that 600,000 people have left Moldova to find work elsewhere and the economy is sustained primarily by money sent back in remittances.

I met a Moldovan brother called Rustom Ahsanov and his family. They had all accepted Islam in 2001. Their warmth, sincerity and genuine concern for the Muslims in their country, as well as outside, was most impressive. This brother has been trying to secure a place in Chisinau where Muslims can perform their daily prayers, jumu'ah, and other basic Islamic activities and education. He has managed to set up a charity organisation on ethnic grounds to perform these activities on a limited level. Whilst this is not ideal, it is a start, and allows the Moldovan Muslims to begin practising their religion without fear or hinderance.

There is a small Arab community in Chisinau made up of foreign students from the Middle East. As a result of this contact between the Arabs and the indigenous Muslim population some financial assistance and guidance was provided that allowed the centre to be run on a basic level. However, recently the Arab community has isolated itself from the local Muslims and stopped providing any assistance. Consequently, the place that was being used as the main Masjid in Chisinau has been forced to close because the Muslims have not been able to pay rent or bills for the last three months.

The only person taking the initiative and struggling to keep things moving is Br Rustom. Alhamdulillah, he has managed to achieve much through his efforts but there is much more that needs to be done. It is essential that we, as Muslims living in the West, take some responsibility and assist in whatever way that we can, whether it be financially, via legal assistance, or by raising awareness of their plight. Copies of official documents of the charity and its permission to use the premises are available, as is correspondence with the European Court for Human Rights (EHRC) in trying to place pressure on the Moldovan government to allow Muslims to practise their religion in peace.

The landlord of the place where the Masjid is currently situated is demanding payment and threatening to take legal action against Br Rustom. He is a brother of modest means with a family to support. It would be very sad indeed if we were to abandon him, because in doing so we would be abandoning the Muslims of Moldova.

For more details and if you can help please contact Shehzad:
E-mail: shez.q[at]zen[dot]co[dot]uk
Website: http://www.zen13886.zen.co.uk

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